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Store appears to offer payday loans to children

Shoppers were furious after a new store opened on a busy London street offering payday loans to children - using their pocket money as collateral.

Credit: Darren Cullen

But it turns out Pocket Money Loans - which appeared to offer high interest rate short-term loans to kids - was nothing more than an elaborate hoax.

The shop which had which has windows decked-out in child-friendly cartoons, was offering children up to £20 for a period no longer than 60 days - for an incredible 5,000% APR.

Residents in Finsbury Park, north London, left dozens of complaints with the shop's creator, Darren Cullen, and the building owner, Mark Thompson.

But the entire project turned out to be a prank created by artist Darren to take a swipe at payday loan companies - some of which charge up to 5,000% APR.

Darren has had a lot of cross people on Facebook and Twitter but people have actually been taken in by it so it's actually a little worrying.

Somebody even walked in and asked for a loan but left when we said 'sorry, we only lend to under 18s'. It looks great from the front, it looks absolutely convincing.

– Darren Cullen, building owner

The installation even had its own website where children aged three and over can borrow up to £20 for 60 days.

Credit: Darren Cullen

Almost all payday loan companies have cartoon mascots, animated characters or sing-along jingles in their adverts.

Their high street shops often have play areas full of toys and some of them hand out balloons and sweets to kids at the counter.

It's the people who can't afford to repay on time who rack up charges and compound interest over weeks or months. That's where the real profits lie, built upon the backs of the poorest, most vulnerable members of society.

– Darren Cullen, Artist